This week our QPP blog continues a theme of providing information on ‘What’s Out There’. Recently we talked about ways to seek help for mental health – and this month the topic is on Finances.
There are many changes that have occurred around HIV. To provide a little contextual background in relation to finances it might help to look at the 80’s and 90’s when there was a need to provide services in response to issues people living with HIV were experiencing at that time – often around relief from suffering and financial hardship associated with being unwell and unable to work or access suitable housing.
With significant advancements in treatments for HIV in the past 10 or so years, the outlook for people living with HIV has vastly improved. In Queensland, HIV services are no longer funded to provide specialised crisis assistance in areas such as finances, transport or housing – in recognition of HIV being considered a chronic manageable condition.
Despite these changes, it is a reality that people living with HIV may not be able to work or sustain full time employment – especially around the time of diagnosis or at other times when health conditions may negatively impact. The HIV Futures Seven Report (2013) indicates 38.1% of people living with HIV who were surveyed rely on a government benefit for income.
For all people, unexpected financial stress or hardship can occur. At these times it may be helpful to know what is out there to help. Knowledge and support can provide a sense of security when our personal circumstances are being challenged especially as the stress and worry of financial problems can impact your health and your relationships. Following are ideas and information that may be helpful.
Contact a financial counselling service for free, confidential help:
- Lifeline Financial Counselling Helpline – 1800 007 007 (9.30am-4pm Monday to Friday)
- The Salvation Army’s Moneycare service – 1300 363 622.
Contact people who you owe money – Tell them you are having difficulties and ask for time to work things out. If you don’t get a helpful response speak to the Hardship Team of the lender or provider. If you don’t feel you’ve had a fair hearing, seek assistance from a financial counselling service or make a complaint to the Ombudsman.
No Interest Loan Scheme (NILS) – Provide individuals and families on low incomes with access to safe, fair and affordable credit for essential goods and services such as fridges, washing machines or car repairs. Call 13 64 57 or check the website www.nils.com.au to find your nearest provider.
Queensland Government Mortgage Relief Loan – Provides short-term help to people who are having difficulties with home loan repayments due to unemployment, accident, illness or other crisis. Eligibility and application – 1300 654 322 or www.qld.gov.au/housing/buying-owning-home/mortgage-relief-loan/
Centrelink Advance – If you receive Centrelink Newstart Allowance or Disability Support Pension (and some other pensions and allowances) you may be eligible to receive part of your Centrelink payment in advance. Repayments are made fortnightly through a reduction in your regular payment. If eligible you can claim on-line, in person at a Centrelink office, or by phone.
Emergency Relief – May help with bill payments such as electricity or phone bills, medication, food or fuel assistance. Many services undergo frequent changes regarding what assistance is available (due to funding levels). Information about ER services is best accessed through local contacts such as:
- Community or Neighbourhood centres
- Salvation Army or St Vincent De Paul
- Or try a search at mycommunitydirectory.com.au
The QPP Treatment and Management Support program can assist to access Emergency Relief information.
Concession and Health Care Cards – Having a concession or health care card gives you access to cheaper health care services and less expensive medicines.
Concession Cards – In addition to Medicare services, you may be eligible for other concessions such as reductions in property and water rates, vehicle registration, energy and public transport. If you hold a concession card, check with your service provider/authority to ensure you are receiving your concession reductions.
Low Income Health Care Card – Provides eligible low income earners access to cheaper prescription medicines and various other concessions. You do not need to be an existing Centrelink customer: http://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/services/centrelink/low-income-health-care-card
The Home Energy Emergency Assistance Scheme – is for low-income households who’ve experienced a short-term financial crisis or unforeseen emergency that has limited their ability to pay their current electricity or reticulated natural gas bills: https://www.qld.gov.au/community/cost-of-living-support/home-energy-emergency-assistance-scheme/
The HOPE Fund – Provides small grants of goods and services to PLHIV who are experiencing financial hardship, have a demonstrated material need and/or are looking to improve their lives.
Budgeting Tools and Tips www.moneysmart.gov.au
- Seek help if you are feeling overwhelmed and cannot cope mentally or emotionally. Talk to a friend, family member, your GP, counsellor a helpline like Lifeline 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636.
If financial pressures or difficulties are impacting your access to HIV care and treatment, QPP Program Staff would be happy to talk further with you about assistance to access financial or other support needs.